Two Icelanders who were central figures at the scene of Bobby Fischer's greatest ever chess triumph urged authorities in Tokyo on Friday to release the grandmaster incarcerated in the East Japan Immigration Bureau Detention Center and allow him to leave for Iceland.
Gudmunder G. Thorarinsson, the organizer of the 1972 World Chess Championship match in Reykjavik, said we may be "discussing here a human tragedy in the making. We are discussing the situation of perhaps the greatest chess genius who has ever walked on this earth."
Thorarinsson spoke in glowing terms to reporters at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan about Fischer's 1972 victory over Boris Spassky where he was "hailed in the United States."
"In Iceland we called this match (Between Fischer and Spassky) in the beginning 'The Match of the Century.' I, myself thought this might be a little over-ambitious. Later, it became clear to me that it was an understatement," he said.
But while future generations may laud Fischer for his chess achievements, Thorarinsson, also a former member of the Icelandic parliament, warned that "history will not judge mightily the U.S. or Japan over what is happening here."
"He is a man who never harmed anyone except maybe with harsh words," Thorarinsson said. "All he has done is move pieces from black squares to white squares."
Saemundur Palsson, Fischer's bodyguard during the 1972 "Match of the Century" and a close friend ever since, said that the grandmaster was not a bad man and expressed disappointment
"(Iceland Foreign Minister David Oddsson) granted Bobby a stay in Iceland and then the parliament granted him a passport, traveling papers," Palsson said. "Soon, I hope it will get to him."
He later said Icelandic officials had told him, "Bobby is only in here because of his lawsuit, because of his passport. That is why he is in. I understood there should not be so much of a problem to get him out (of jail). But there seems to be some problems. I hope that will be solved soon."
Iceland Ambassador to Japan Thordur Oskarsson confirmed a special foreigner's passport issued by Iceland for Fischer is in the Iceland Embassy in Tokyo.
"I have been instructed to give the passport to Mr. Fischer upon his release," Oskarsson told the Mainichi Daily News.
Fischer is fighting a deportation order from within the Ushiku detention center after he was arrested at Narita Airport in July last year for using a passport the U.S. says it had revoked. A U.S. grand jury indicted him in December 1992 for violating an Executive Order forbidding commercial ties with Yugoslavia.
Fischer's supporters told the news conference that the grandmaster was moved to solitary confinement on Wednesday. He may not meet any visitors - including his lawyer, Masako Suzuki - and he has been forbidden from contacting the outside world.
They added that they feared for his health.
Miyoko Watai, Fischer's fiancee, said the grandmaster had lost "about 10 kilograms" since his confinement began in July last year. Where he had once been a little fat, she said, now he is very skinny.
Watai said Fischer's confinement had caused him to start loathing Japan and the Japanese.
Masako Suzuki, Fischer's lawyer, said an air ticket to Iceland had been bought for the grandmaster. She added that he has applied for voluntary departure to Iceland, promising to end legal action against the Ministry of Justice for issuing a deportation order against him if he is allowed to go.
John Bosnitch, head of the committee to free Fischer, said the chess great's supporters are aiming to get him a flight out of Japan by March 9, his 62nd birthday.
Bosnitch added that Fischer's U.S. attorney Richard J. Vattuone is seeking, perhaps as early as next week, a writ of habeas corpus in the U.S., temporary restraining orders against any action the Justice or State departments may be preparing against Fischer and possibly a legal challenge over the constitutionality of the executive order the grandmaster is charged with violating by playing chess against Spassky in 1992 in a Yugoslavia then under sanctions.
Bosnitch said the final objectives of Fischer's supporters in Japan were:
"FREEDOM for Bobby Fischer from Japan;
CITIZENSHIP for Bobby Fischer in a safe, independent and free country; and,
ELIMINATION of all outstanding warrants, arrests or any illegal action in any country," he said.
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